Patching

I’ve just been attempting to play a game I’ve had sitting in my stack of disks for a while now – Heroes of Might and Magic V.

Heres the thing… Ubisoft have not made this easy. At all. People constantly whine that PC gaming is so much more of a hassle than console gaming, and after an experience like this, I totally agree…

Ok, so here is my experience of patching and playing Heroes of Might and Magic V.

1. Inserted disk and installed the game.
2. Aware that there have been several patches with balance and crash fixes etc, I was eager to get these applied asap.
3. Go to official Might and Magic website
4. Download latest 1.5 EU patch (why do you we need a Direct Download, EU collectors retail and EU retail patch for each version?)
5. Attempt to install patch, it tells me I need to install 1.41 first. *sigh*
6. So I attempt to download the correct ‘1.4’ patch out of the EIGHT possible 1.4 patches.
7. The official download link gives me a server error.
8. I bring out google, gamespot obliges with the patch.
9. I download it and attempt to install it. It tells me the game is not installed.
10. Oh look, how foolish of me, I’ve downloaded the US version of the patch – gamespot didn’t label the file as being region specific.
11. Another quick google search and 3 different sites later I’m downloading the 1.41 patch
12. Attempt to install 1.41 patch, and it tells me I can’t do this because 1.4 is not installed
13. Google for 1.4 EU patch (I’m not falling for that again)
14. 2 sites later I’m downloading the significantly larger 1.4 patch. 15 minutes later I have the file.
15. Install 1.4
16. Install 1.41
17. Install 1.5. Incidentally, all the patches are badly named. 1.5 actually has the filename 1.05, 1.4 -> 1.04 etc. CONFUSING!
18. Wait about 20s for the games copy protection to verify my disk (silently of course…)
19. Launch the game.
20. Create a new custom game (I’ve played some of the missions before), setting the difficulty to Easy (I’m a little rusty)
21. Notice that the game is taking several seconds on a turn based game per AI. I launched task manager just to check – no its not using my 4 cores, it’s using one. Come on guys. Single threaded apps are /so/ last week.
22. Die within 4 turns.
23. Try again on a smaller map, doing better this time.
24. Vista BSODs.
25. I’m bored. Off to do something else.

There are two ways they could have made patching easier (in order of preference)

1. An auto patcher. Simply have an option on one of the menus to check for updates. The tool goes online, grabs the patches required and installs them, no user interaction required. Oh and at a decent speed please… It should also be noted that an auto patcher could also inform the user of new patches when you launch the game, if I was your typical gamer I would not be aware I even needed to patch it, and therefore miss out on all the extra hard work put in by the games developer.

2. Combined patches not just incremental patches. Incremental patches are all well and good if you are on top of them, but if you are new to the game, downloading 3-4 patches and installing them in a particular order is a nightmare, especially when the official site does not work properly.

While we are at it, the game has been out for about 2 years now, isn’t it about time you patch the game to make it not need the CD to play. Come on, all the cool kids are doing it. CDs are ANNOYING, especially when it adds a long delay to start playing!

Anyway. Yes, who made ‘Easy’ ‘Hard’ all of a sudden. Easy is supposed to be Easy. As in Hard to die. Or does ‘Easy’ suddenly mean Easy to die? I must have missed that memo.

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